Convention center contract policy may be tweaked to ensure diversity

Friday, January 8, 2010 at 12:46am

A procurement policy that calls for sufficient participation from minority- and women-owned businesses in work related to a proposed $585 million convention center may be tweaked to ensure diversity contracting goals are actually met.

At Thursday’s Convention Center Authority meeting, Metro Development and Housing said it is looking at what it can legally do to address concerns over the low number of businesses owned by females and minorities contracted thus far during predevelopment work on the Music City Center.

“We will be, shortly here, ready to present something to you that will address that particular question,” Roxianne Bethune, who is leading the group’s diversity effort, told the mayoral-appointed and Metro Council-approved body that oversees Music City Center.

Projects leaders have said the goal should be for 20 percent of all spending on the convention center to go to small business or those owned by women or minorities. While 21.2 percent of contracts — as of November — have gone to small business, only 5.7 percent have been awarded to minorities and only 1.4 percent to females.

The imbalance in representation has raised alarm among many observers, particularly the Council’s Black Caucus chair Lonnell Matthews Jr., who in a letter two months ago called for “definite consequences” if better monitoring is not taken to ensure more participation from female- and minority-owned businesses.

Additional criticism came Thursday from authority members Leo Waters and Mark Arnold, who called the current policy “soft” and said the procurement policy needs “teeth,” recommending there be “a price to pay” if companies don’t meet participation requirements.

“I want to see the softness removed,” Arnold said.

Dean wrote a letter to the Convention Center Authority on Wednesday, asking it to create a committee devoted to ensuring that opportunities for minority participation are maximized. The authority’s chair, Marty Dickens, said he supports such a committee.

In an e-mail sent Thursday afternoon, Matthews said he is “very satisfied” with the efforts of MDHA and Dean, and encouraged the Convention Center Authority to commit to making minority participation a top priority.

10 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 1/8/10 at 6:54

The "Tweaking" is to assure council votes, and has little to do
with ensuring miniority participation. After all, the proof is in the
pudding, in that these are the only times this type participation is
discussed and promised. Then all is forgotten as the project
goes forward. Too bad, this is the only consideration many of
the miniority councilmembers care about, rather than cost to
the entire county of taxpayers and other policies they are in
favor of!

By: Kosh III on 1/8/10 at 7:55

(sarcasm alert)
There will be plenty of diversity: most of the construction workers will be illegal aliens, as will many of the food service/janitorial staff at the center. I mean, we were promised this would produce jobs? Right?

By: idgaf on 1/8/10 at 8:32

Kosh truth is not sarcasim.

We have to get rid of anyone that votes for this theft of taxpyer money.

By: AmyLiorate on 1/8/10 at 9:49

I can't keep score. The project seems to keep moving forward, but this non-news makes it look more like they're struggling to keep it alive.

I mean don't all large public projects require minority contracts? So what, Dean said to "maximize" it?

Doesn't that mean the real story here is that Dean promotes reverse discrimination and places that at a higher priority than finding the best quality at the lowest price for his constituents?

By: trtay2004 on 1/8/10 at 9:50

Being a minority myself, I am all for ensuring minority involvement. However, I am totally against the city to be forced to use one business over another simply because it is female or minority owned.

Kosh, I'm Native American and I see you the white man as the illegal aliens in my homeland, so stop your hatred.

By: sidneyames on 1/8/10 at 10:04

AmyL, I agree with you when you say "don't all large public projects require minority contracts? So what, Dean said to "maximize" it? " Of course, Karl is saying that; he thinks it will get him votes.

And we have to stay vigilante to be sure we call him on that account.

Also, trtay, I don't think Kosh "hates" anyone. I think that he, along with others like myself, are tired of the illegal immigrants getting "benefits" designed for taxpayers.

Regarding your Native American status, I can't speak to that matter. I've only been alive since 1946 and I am not sure (100%) of what went down in the 16, 17, 1800's. I know that the planet, including the U.S. is a large place and we can all inhabit the land together. I wish it were different, but it is what it is. I can't tell you if I'm part Indian even though my mother's people come from the Cherokee area and grandpa sure looked Cherokee 'ish". We didn't try to but in and get benefits. Don't need them.

But for those who are true Native Americans I hope they find peace within themselves and love all people as much as I do. (PS D7 if you read this, I love all people, but not all people's doctrine - you can't get that clear, can you?)

By: AmyLiorate on 1/8/10 at 10:23

That minority owned stuff is total malarkey anyway.

In case you've never seen it in action here is how it works:

Step one: A man starts a construction company.
Step two: After a couple of years his wife starts her own construction company since she too knows the business.
Step three: She bids on gov't contracts (the city is really getting two bids from the same company now)
Step four: She, as a minority, won the contract and then hires in her husbands crew.
Step five: The city calls it a great project that had X number of minority owned businesses involved and all the sheeple think it was different than all the projects in the past and we feel good because some minorities finally got a step up!

By: Kosh III on 1/8/10 at 11:24

No hatred for illegal aliens, but rather disgust with the outlaw employers who hire low-wage undocumented aliens because they can pay lousy salaries and avoid taxes.
And did I mention that I was being sarcastic?
How do you know I am white? Kosh is a Vorlon name. :)

By: typicalsutherner on 1/8/10 at 6:57

trtay2004, sounds like you're the one with hatred...nothing was stolen from YOU, stop it

By: shef2 on 1/8/10 at 10:22

Let's get back to the REAL issue - Not only will they hire 70% of OUTSIDE TN workers, but probably only 1% Minority folks. Please Google NASHVILLE PRIORITIES, for MORE info-!!!